Christmas Caravan

Squirrel Nut Zippers

Mammoth, 1998

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


Well, the holiday season is here again and that brings with it a plethora of Christmas music – everything from Michael Buble and the Carpenters to Perry Como and Blake Shelton. For those of you like me who get tired of the same ol’ saccharine crap year in, year out, there are some alternatives. This record is one of the best of them.

Beginning with the always-beautiful voice of Katharine Whalen singing “Winter Weather,” you know you’re in for a real treat. Tom Maxwell ended up contributing two of the album’s most stirring tracks. The first, “A Johnny Ace Christmas,” tells the true tale of R&B singer Johnny Ace who killed himself playing Russian roulette backstage at a Christmas Eve show in 1954. It’s dark, heavy stuff for a Christmas record, but with Whalen’s vocals leading the way, the song adds an eerie, less than stellar vibe to an otherwise cheery and holiday-ready collection. The second song “My Evergreen” has long been a favorite of mine and is always a song I recommend to people looking for that different type of Christmas track. It’s just so beautiful and moving; it’s a song you will run back to over and over again.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Other tracks, however, like the instrumental “Sleigh Ride” and “Indian Giver,” never really seem to find their rhythm and don’t work as well as something unique like “Carolina Christmas.” But the strengths on this record more than outweigh the weaknesses. Closing out the disc is a song written by the drummer’s grandfather. “Hanging Up My Stockings” is a great throwback to Christmases of one’s youth, capturing all the excitement and activity surrounding Santa’s arrival. It’s a great track with loads of energy, great musicianship, and an all-around really, warm holiday vibe. There’s even a special bonus track buried at the end of the track, so you need to keep your ears tuned to really enjoy it.

Ultimately, this ended up being the last record done by the ‘classic’ version of the band, and for longtime fans like myself, it’s something to cling to. For those who like their holiday music just a bit on the different side, then this is definitely the disc for you. Put down the Brian Setzer Orchestra and pick up something fun!

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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